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10 Tricks From Psychology For Making Better Characters (GDC 2004)

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10 Tricks From Psychology For Making Better Characters (GDC 2004)


Published March 24, 2004


This session explores ways to make characters more real, interesting, and fun for players. The goal is to expand the audience with characters that appeal to a broader set of gamers. With the increasing powers of today's graphics and AI, it's easy to create an elaborate and expensive, but somehow "flat" character. A cheaper and often more effective shortcut is to use a little psychology. The more developers know about how people "read" other people in real life interactions, the better their chances of making an engaging and fun game character.

In this session, attendees learn a few key ideas from social psychology that can help make characters that feel alive and really enhance a player's gaming experience. Topics include using social roles to set and deliver on player expectations, managing first impressions for maximum appeal and character clarity, the power of body language, using research about how gender affects gaming to build characters that appeal to women, and crafting player-characters that work at all four psychological levels for players: fantasy, visceral, cognitive, and social. The discussion also addresses how developers can make sure achieving the effects they'd like, incorporating a bit of character psychology testing into their play-testing cycle.

The session includes examples from well-known games (including Jak and Daxter, The Sims, Half-Life, Halo, Zelda: Windwaker and others) and look at why their characters work from a psychological point of view. You'll get 10 easy tricks you can apply to your own character design process. These are relevant for artists and animators, as well as programmers.

Speaker: Katherine Isbister


Run time 55:45
Audio/Visual sound, color
Language English

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